‘Apologise to families, survivors of Marikana massacre’: Seri tells govt

11 August 2023 - 06:49
By Ernest Mabuza
The Socio-Economic Rights Institute says 11 years after the Marikana masscare, its victims still seek justice. File photo.
Image: Daniel Born The Socio-Economic Rights Institute says 11 years after the Marikana masscare, its victims still seek justice. File photo.

Government must prioritise the victims of the Marikana massacre by apologising to the families and survivors of the massacre, the Socio-Economic Rights Institute (Seri) says.

Seri, a public interest law centre which has represented 36 families of the miners killed in Marikana on August 13 and 16 2012, also called on Sibanye-Stillwater, the mine that acquired Lonmin, to play its role in bringing justice to the families by acknowledging the role the mine played in the massacre.

“We call on the state to take the steps to prosecute those responsible for the massacre, ranging from state officials to representatives of the mine who are accused of being involved."

Seri also called on the state to expedite finalising all outstanding compensatory claims. 

Forty-four people were killed, including 34 miners who were shot and killed by the police on August 16 2012, following a decision by workers at the mine to embark on an unprotected strike to bring their grievances about wages and working conditions to the attention of the employer. 

Seri said the families, totalling 320 claimants, launched their civil claim seeking an apology from government and damages for loss of support, medical expenses, general damages and constitutional damages.  

It said the state has only paid out settlements for loss of support claims for 34 of the 36 families.

In 2019  Seri received an offer for loss of support for the 35th family but this excluded a family member and is yet to be finalised. On the 36th family, Seri said the state’s position was that it would not compensate the family for loss of support as it believed the deceased miner did not have an obligation to support his siblings and their children.  

Seri said only nine police officers had been prosecuted to date.  

“Four police officers were charged with crimes relating to defeating the ends of justice and for concealing the circumstances around the death of Motiso Otsile van Wyk Sagalala. In 2021  all four officers, including former North West deputy police commissioner Maj-Gen William Mpembe, were acquitted.”

It said Mpembe and five other officers are standing trial for the events that occurred on August 13, 2012 when three mineworkers and two police officers were killed.  

“This trial commenced in May 2021 and is yet to conclude. All this time the families whose loved ones were killed on August 13 and 16 2012 continue to bear the brunt of delayed justice through slow-paced prosecutions.” 

Seri said over the past 11 years neither former president Jacob Zuma nor President Cyril Ramaphosa have visited the families to tender an apology for the loss of their loved ones.  

“In February 2018 [during the state of the nation address] and in April 2018 [at the funeral of Winnie Mandela], Ramaphosa repeated a promise he made to visit the widows and families and to apologise to them, That is yet to take place."

Seri said instead the state has denied the families are legally entitled to the apology and dragged its feet in terms of compensatory redress by having only settled on one of the five areas for compensation, namely loss of support.

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